It was a day of firsts Friday at the District V Championships.
On a windy day at Fairway Hills, Marriotts Ridge not only rolled its way to the first overall title in program history, but also produced first-time winners in the boys and girls individual competitions as well.
Mustangs’ freshman Bennett Buch fired a two-over round of 72, getting himself into a sudden-death playoff he eventually won over Glenelg’s Steven Segrist. And on the other side, Mustang junior Rachel Lee shot a 73 to edge Atholton’s Bryana Nguyen by one.
With those two leading the way, Marriotts Ridge managed a 306 total as a team to edge Glenelg (310 in 1A/2A), Wilde Lake (312 in 3A/4A) and Atholton (328 in 3A/4A) for the team trophy as well. Each of the top four teams advanced to the state championship tournament, scheduled for Oct. 22-24.
“In the back of my mind, I knew we had something like this in us,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs, whose team is now headed to states for the fourth straight year. “But the fact that we were coming in here with basically four kids, not five like everyone else … each of them really stepped up to the plate and delivered.”
Buch, playing in his first-ever district event, found himself needing extra holes to clinch his first high school title. After matching pars with Glenelg’s Segrist on the par 5 18th hole, he got up-and-down out of a bunker on the par 4 10th hole to seal the championship.
“I’ve got a lot more gray hairs after this one, but it feels great,” said Buch. “To be honest, I was a little jittery over most of the putts and definitely a little nervous, but I was lucky enough to hit enough good shots at the end to win.”
Just getting into the playoff required some heroics from Buch. After missing a short par putt on his second to last hole, he came to the tee on the par 3 17th needing birdie to pull into a tie. He delivered arguably his best shot of the day to within five feet of the pin and then made the putt.
“I figured Steven wasn’t making worse than par on 18, his last hole, so I needed a birdie. I was a definitely a little more aggressive than usual with my tee shot, starting it left of the green and letting the wind bring it back,” Buch said.
Segrist made his share of memorable shots on his way to earning his spot in the playoff. At the top of the list for him was an 80-foot birdie putt on No. 13 and a chip-in for par on No. 16.
“The putt was definitely a shock and at the point I was down one, so that was a huge boost,” Segrist said. “Then the chip in at 16 really kept me going because it helped me keep the lead. They were both big.”
Segrist went on to par his final hole to finish at 72 and tied with Buch.
Wilde Lake’s Tyler Silberberg, who had won the county championship tournament earlier in the week, had a chance of his own to get into the playoff on his final hole. His eagle putt, however, ended up a couple inches short of the cup and he was forced to settle for a third-place 73.
“At the end of the day, that’s what we’re out here for — to compete with a chance to win,” Silberberg said. “I didn’t make the putt, but I was right there and it was exciting.”
While Segrist and Silberberg did end up falling short of the individual title, they still will be advancing with their teammates to the season’s final tournament. Atholton also will be joining the party at the University of Maryland, bouncing back after an eighth-place showing at counties.
“At the end of the day, all that matters is that you qualify for states … that’s that one you want to win,” said Silberberg, who is leading a Wilde Lake team making its first appearance in the state championship. “Making it as a team, that’s been the goal all year.”
In the girls competition, Marriotts Ridge’s Lee found herself needing to make a four-foot putt for par on her final hole to clinch the title. Composing herself, she knocked it dead center to get in the postseason winner’s circle for the first time in her career.
“Surprisingly, I was extremely nervous for that putt. I have won against Bryana a couple times before, but never in a high school type tournament,” Lee said. “I had been missing that kind of putt all day and I knew if I missed that one I would be in a playoff ... I just took a deep breath and went through my routine.”
Just as important as that final putt, was Lee’s ability all day to bounce back from adversity. She made a triple-bogey on her seventh hole, but answered with back-to-back birdies to close her front nine. Later, after a double-bogey, she responded by playing her final six holes in two-under par.
“I just kept telling myself ‘Don’t give up and there are still plenty of holes left.’ I just had to play smart,” she said.